Skull Collector: Why Did 47-Year-Old Austrian Man Steal 56 17th-Century Human Skulls For Private Museum?

By Philip Ross on July 18, 2013 1:56 PM EDT

skull collector
A skull collector in Austria stole 56 skulls and 55 thigh bones from a church cemetery. The skull collector set up a museum in his apartment to display the remains. (Photo: Reuters)

A skull collector in Austria was caught red-handed with 56 human skulls he pinched from a church cemetery. Authorities busted the unnamed 47-year-old skull collector, who apparently maintained a small museum in his apartment to display the remains, after he was spotted trying to hawk his bounty at a flea market in Kemeten, a town 83 miles south of the Austrian capital of Vienna.

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Investigators determined the Austrian skull collector had stolen the 56 human skulls, along with 55 other bones mainly from the thigh area, from a burial ground in Maria Weinberg Parish Church. He cleaned out a 17th-century tomb and transported the goods to his apartment where he put them on display. Inquisitor reports that the man claimed he was simply protecting the remains from decay.

It didn't help his case that the skull collector conned the church into handing over the remains.

"One month ago the 47-year-old man contacted the sexton claiming he was on an official mission and needed the bones for a museum in Oberwart," Police officer Wolfgang Bachkönig told Austrian Times, talking about the skull collector. "The sexton acted in good will and allowed the bones to be transported."

According to AP, the skull collector was charged with "disturbing the peace of the dead." The remains were returned to the cemetery from where they came.

Read more from iScience Times:

Ice Age Wolf Skull; 'Game Of Thrones' Real-Life Dire Wolf Remains Being Examined [VIDEO]

Alien-Like Skulls Found In Mexico: A Sign Of The Mayan Apocalypse 2012?

Man Survives 6 Foot Iron Bar Through Skull

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